Long Walk- Part 7- Courage

In part seven, titled, Rivonia, Nelson Mandela had returned to South Africa and shortly after arriving was arrested and charged with illegally leaving the country and inciting strike. Mandela was sentenced to five years in prison. When transferred to Robben Island, despite all of the humiliating and demeaning treatment, Mandela resisted and persevered to try to fight for his rights as a political prisoner.

It amazes me how dedicated he is to his beliefs and morals and his strong struggle in order to get what is right even when he was in prison. The courage and pride Mandela possessed even dealing with the guards and others are something that few have. He speaks his mind and as long as he feels he is right in what he is saying or doing, the consequence of his action does not bother him the slightest, even if he was frightened.

“I was frightened; it is not a pleasant sensation to know that someone is about to hit you and you are unable to defend yourself. When he was just a few feet from me, I said, as firm as I could, “If you so much as lay a hand on me, I will take you to the highest court in the land and when I finish with you, you will be as poor as a church mouse.”

The moment I began speaking, he paused, and by the end of my speech, he was staring at me with astonishment. I was a bit surprised myself. I had been afraid, and spoke not from courage, but out of a kind of bravado. At such times, one must put up a bold front despite what one feels inside” (Mandela 342).

During his time at Robben Island, the police had raided the Liliesleaf farm and found incriminating documents and material against Nelson Mandela. As a result, he was charged with sabotage, which was a capital offense. For the trial Mandela prepared a speech and had read it to his fellow accused, whom approved  it. However, Bram Fischer and Hal Hanson, their attorneys,  believed that parts should be left out and stated that, “If Mandela reads this in court they will take him straight out in back of the courthouse and string him up” (Mandela 362). Mandela ignored their advice and after four hours of his speech he concluded it confidently.

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die” (Mandela 368).

After his speech, he is found guilty and not given the death sentence, but a life sentence. Again, it still fascinates me how he, at any given moment, is prepared to die for his cause. The tolerance and stamina lead to his long deserved success later on.

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One Comment on “Long Walk- Part 7- Courage

  1. This is also what struck me the most about this section of the book. I find it very inspiring when a person has strong enough beliefs that they are willing to die for them. Mandela knew that he broke the law and did not try to get himself proven innocent by lying about his motives. He basically says during the trial that the ANC did attempt sabotage, and that it was the only other means of getting their point across. His statement during the trial that you quoted in this blog continues to make me admire Mandela. He stood true to his beliefs and was willing to die for them if that’s what it took.

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